‘Too much of a good thing is wonderful!’ These words are usually attributed to Mae West. Knowing the sultry 1920s movie star’s inclinations, perhaps the old gal meant sex. Here, I take the liberty to apply this optimistic saying to Eat Drink SF – San Francisco’s premier annual food, wine, and spirits festival that celebrates the Bay Area’s world-class chefs and restaurants every August at the Festival pavilion at Fort Mason Center.Founded by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Eat Drink SF is a food lover’s paradise. It features the bounty of California flavors in a sequence of food- and wine- themed events, each of them – one of a kind experiences enjoyed by the locals and city visitors on San Francisco Bay’s waterfront.
This reporter attended a Saturday Afternoon Grand Tasting last week – just one of many wonderful events – which presented seasonal dishes from more than 30 restaurants; over 70 different beers, wines, and cocktails; cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs Ryan Scott (Top Chef, Market & Rye) and Brian Boitano (Olympic Champion, cookbook author), Tony Gemignani (World Pizza Champion, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana), Michael Tusk (Cotogna, Quince) and Chris Marchino (Cotogna) emceed by Liam Mayclem, KCBS’s Foodie Chap; San Francisco Wine School Beverage Classroom; the Whole Foods Cheese Monger Cave, and even lawn games and snacks in the Backyard Bites zone.
But first thing first – Hudson Valley Foie Gras made a memorable appearance with dearly beloved duck products – foie gras tourchon with huckleberry jam, and duck barbacoa on duck fat fried chip.
Tony Gemignani – the World Pizza Champion (and my fellow countryman from an obscure East Bay location – SO proud of him!) treated the adoring public to his signature Tony’s Pizza Napoletana meatballs made of veal, pork, beef and pancetta in marinara sauce.
Dennis Leung of Dragon Beaux (Chef Zhou-Hui Yu) presented delicious stuffed steamed buns creatively shaped and finished to look like large shiitake mushrooms.
Michael Rotondo of Parallel 37 came up with the most unusual and delightful Hamachi taco topped with cilantro and seaweed.
Matthew Dolan of Twenty Five Lusk served fresh and juicy Adriatic figs with bright green skin and deep red flesh, sprinkled with crumbled feta, fennel, and toasted sesame seeds.
Roberth Sundell of Pläj – the authentic Scandinavian restaurant known for its heavenly seafood – prepared a salmon and shrimp salad topped with salmon roe (no less!) but by the photoshoot time the entire supply of the Northern delicacy was gone!
Chris Ricketts of the tropical-themed Palm House prepared a refreshing summer melon salad with bacon bits, microgreens, and ginger.
Chris Seyersdahl of Precita Park Café made a wonderful melon gazpacho with stone fruit crudités, summer herbs, and crispy lardo bits.
Mark Gordon of Terzo created summer farro salad: Umbrian farro, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, pomegranate molasses, spicy zhoug, olive oil, and salt.
Tony Cervone of Souvla prepared a finger-licking dish of Superior Farms whole lamb – Greek-style – with lemon, olive oil dressing and minted green yogurt.
Mike Ward of The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards presented house-made sausage with whole-grain mustard.
Celebrity chef Joanne Weir (James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and a host of PBS series) of Copita Tequileria y Comida made tuna crudo tostaditas with cucumber, avocado, chile de arbol and peanut salsa.
Whole Foods Cheese Monger Cave presented four cheeses paired with cider: Buf – a ball of creamy buffalo milk mozzarella from grass-fed buffalos raised in the Colombian Andes; 12-month raw Manchego – hard Spanish sheep’s milk salty and nutty variety; Herve Mons Camembert made from cow’s milk, with earthy mushroomy flavors, and Cabot Catamount Hills cheddar – Italian-style, with notes of Swiss and parmesan.
Speaking of cider, estate grown Gowans Cider made from juicy Mendocino apples was incredibly delicious in all its varieties.
Exiting the Festival Pavilion after “too much of a good thing,” I couldn’t abstain from a short stop at a makeshift Tattoo Shop. That’s where I got my “Holy Trinity” food-inspired tattoo of onion, celery, and carrot everyone keeps asking me about.It wouldn’t be possible to try and mention all of the outstandingly delicious dishes and drinks presented at just one of the tasting events of Eat Drink SF, but visiting the participating restaurants soon and often would surely help.
Saturday afternoon featured restaurants included 1300 on Fillmore, Aveline, Bacon Bacon, Bon Marché Brasserie & Bar, Cadence, Ca’Momi Enoteca, CatHead’s BBQ, Copita Tequileria y Comida, Dragon Beaux, Emporio Rulli, Heritage Eats, Hillside Supper Club, Hops & Hominy, Huxley, ICHI Sushi, Luce, Mr. Tipples Recording Studio, Nick’s Cove, Palm House, Parallel 37, Pizzeria Delfina, Pläj, Precita Park Cafe, Ristobar, Scala’s Bistro, Souvla, Terzo, The Ramen Bar, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Twenty Five Lusk, and Zero Zero.
Featured beverages included: beer from Allagash Brewing Company, Bear Republic Brewing Company, Gowan’s Heirloom Cider, Hoegaarden, Leffe Blonde, Leffe Brune, North Coast Brewing Company, San Francisco Brewers Guild, Stella Artois, Stella Artois Cidre, Stone Brewing Company, Trumer Pils; wine from Ca’ Momi Napa Valley, Domaine de Canton, Ironstone Vineyard, Jeremy Wine Co., J.Lohr Vineyards and Wines, Lodi Vintners, McCay Cellars, Meadowcroft Wines, Oak Farm Vineyards, Paso Robles Wine Country, Peltier Winery, Treana and Hope Family Wines, Viñedos Aurora; spirits from Anchor Old Tom, BarSol Pisco, Brugal Rum, Carpano Antica Formula, Cutty Sark Blended, Scotch Whisky, Deep Eddy Vodka, Disaronno Originale, Fernet Branca, Highland Park Single, Malt Scotch Whisky, Junipero Gin, Larceny Bourbon, Luxardo, No.3 London Dry Gin, Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, Sipsmith Gin, Snow Leopard Vodka, Spirit Works Distillery,Tap 357 Canadian Maple Rye Whisky, Templeton Rye, The Black Grouse, The King’s Ginger, Woodford Reserve, Zaya Rum; non-alcoholic beverages from FloWater, KeVita™ Sparkling Probiotic Drink, Mr. Espresso, Purity Organics, Starbucks Coffee Company.
Eat Drink SF charity beneficiaries are Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation established to encourage and provide assistance for individuals who wish to further their education in pursuit of careers in the hospitality industry, and The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) – dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs.
Creative consulting for the highly successful Eat Drink SF events was provided by AF&Co – a co-founding company, which widely popularized the concept of the San Francisco food festival over the years, and attracted thousands of visitors from all regions of the country as well as from abroad to this most significant city event. More information at: www.eatdrink-sf.com. #EDSF.